One day a missionary group was flying on a missionary trip to a country which had never before heard about Christianity.
The small plane was loaded with bibles. Since the plane’s passengers were quite varied in their reading habits, the plane also carried a handful of books by various Christian authors, including Pope John Paul II, Jerry Falwell, Francis De Sales, Tim La Haye, as well as other christian books on a variety of subjects.
Unfortunately, the plane began having engine trouble and crashed near a group of villages. All except one person aboard the plane was killed and went on to their reward. However, the entire cargo survived the crash intact, and as the last injured missionary dragged the boxes of books from the burning fuselage the villagers reached the crash site. Despite his numerous injuries, the missionary pried open the box, pulled out a bible and cried “The Word of God!”. He then collapsed and died in the arms of the tribal chief.
Although there was no one there to teach them, the villagers were ecstatic to have the books which the obviously Godly people had strived so mightily to give to them, and they set about to learn that Word of God.
However, neighboring wars and daunting geographical features would keep outsiders away for the next 100 years, and no would-be missionaries visited the country. The locals wouldn’t let that stop them, though, as they devoured all the books left by their “flying angels from God”. They went about reading their books and learning all they could about this wonderful and true religion. They eagerly began printing more bibles and spreading the Word of God around their country.
A hundred years later, some missionaries finally made it back into the country and were overjoyed to be welcomed as “Brothers and Sisters in Christ” by the now thoroughly converted country. Though happy about the locals’ sincere faith, the new missionaries found what they considered to be peculiar religious practices and beliefs.
One such practice was their belief in “Saved by soccer”. Each person, upon reaching the age of ten, would report to the soccer field. The child (or adult convert) would walk up to any person in the crowd and say “I’m on God’s team” then walk onto the field and kick the ball in the goal past a scarecrow dressed up as the devil. If he or she scored a goal, then that meant they had been “saved.” When questioned by the missionaries, the local pastor told them about the need for belief in Jesus and quoted Psalm 33:*“Play skillfully with a shout of joy!” * and openly wondered if these missionaries were “true christians” or not. “Don’t you read the bible?”, the local pastor asked incredulously. When the missionaries described their beliefs about salvation and told the pastor that they’d never said “I’m on God’s team”, let alone “kicked a goal for God” he was genuinely concerned for their souls and urged them to join him at the soccer field.
The astonished missionaries were even more shocked when the pastor showed them their bible—it was huge!–three times the size of a “regular” bible. Searching through the book they found that some things were missing—several chapters of Genesis and other OT books, three of Paul’s letters were gone, and the Gospel of Luke was nowhere to be seen. Even more surprising were the extras—“The First Letter of Tim LaHaye to the Dirty Romans", “The Lamentations of Francis De Sales”, and the "Acts of Jerry Falwell” among others.
“This isn’t a true bible!” shouted one of the missionaries, throwing the thick book to the ground. “Says who?” said the local pastor, “The Holy Spirit guided us as to what was truly Scripture. We only took out what you never should have added in the first place.”
“What about the Gospel of Luke?!?” cried one of the missionaries.
“A gospel of straw” clucked the pastor, adding a dismissive wave of his hand.
There turned out to be many areas of contention and the missionaries and the locals would spend the next several years going around and around about these issues, but that night the pastor asked the missionaries two questions I will ask you now:
**1-Is the local bible as valid as the one the missionaries brought in? If not—why not?
2-Is the practice of “saved by soccer” valid? If not–why not?**